Civic Censorship: The New Political Strategy in Davenport Print
Commentary/Politics - Editorials
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 02:44

I'm confused. By what authority does Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin issue a "no contact with staff" order against Third Ward Alderman Keith Meyer, or any other council member for that matter? Davenport is a strong-council/weak-mayor form of government, making city-council members Malin's bosses, not the other way around.

Furthermore, the order is not specific for cause or any other relative detail that might give it even a modicum of legitimacy. What is deeply disturbing about this caper on Malin's part is the lengths he will go to to distract Meyer from examining the city's business.

There is a definite movement afoot in Davenport's city hall to limit Alderman Meyer's access to information that might reveal or derail activities that are meant to play out under the civic radar. Meyer has consistently investigated such activities with the kind of diligence taxpayers deserve. Sadly, this exposure is creating nefarious strategies to undermine him in these efforts, and to hurt his chances for winning re-election this fall.

Forget for a moment the level of petty vindictiveness that drives these recent actions against Meyer - restricting access to confidential data, even before proving Meyer released any such information, and after being told by Iowa's Department of Economic Development that the information at issue was not deemed proprietary and therefore should be open to public scrutiny. Just consider the enormity of the actions themselves.

Administrator Malin and Davenport Mayor Ed Winborn have conspired to censor an alderman that acts contrarily to their agendas! It happens to be Meyer this time. Who will be next? Do Davenport aldermen have to fear such reprisal if they don't do the bidding of the figureheads? Beyond Administrator Malin and Mayor Winborn, who behave more like puppets of DavenportOne, is the bidding of this exceedingly liberal organization included, as well?

This is serious stuff, folks. The administrator is running amok of civic protocol, invoking and/or allowing all manner of harassment against an alderman whose crime is determined and persistent questioning of Davenport's leadership, city staff, and special interests who appear before the council with their hands out.

Watch any city-council meeting for yourself and witness the lack of respect heaped on Alderman Meyer when he seeks information or clarification, or even proposes something himself. He is consistently marginalized, ignored, dismissed, cut off, and even disparaged for just asking the hard questions that should be asked by every single member of that council, the administrator, the department heads, and any staff involved in a particular issue.

Those doing the harassment on-screen are his peers (for the most part the mayor and Aldermen Brooke, Howard, Dumas, and Frink), while Administrator Malin works off-screen in his efforts to thwart Meyer. What these incredibly shortsighted men and woman fail to recognize is that Meyer is winning the day, politically speaking. It is his word we will be trusting when we look for reliable data, because we know how hard he has had to fight to get it.

Here's an idea: Instead of spending all the day's energy trying to discredit Alderman Meyer, how about just answering the man's questions?